The tummo breathing technique, also called g-tummo, is a form of meditation that uses a mix of breathing and visualization. People can use tummo breathing to enter a deep state of meditation.

Meditation is a practice that people can use to help improve their health and well-being. Various kinds of meditation involve specific breathing techniques.

Tummo breathing uses a combination of visualization, breathing, and muscle contractions. Combining these techniques can allow a person to enter a meditative state.

Read on to learn more about tummo breathing, including its history, how to do it, and its health benefits.

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Tummo breathing, which translates to “inner fire” in Tibetan, is a meditation practice that incorporates a mix of mental and physical techniques. It is part of the Vajrayana practices, which are a form of tantric Buddhism.

Buddhism is a religion that aims to relieve living beings from suffering. A person can achieve this through a combination of meditation, good ethics, and spiritual teachings.

Tantric Buddhism includes visualizations and rituals, alongside meditation, to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Practitioners believe it can free someone from suffering.

Practitioners of tummo use it to train their minds to enter a deep state of meditation. Deep meditation is a state where a person loses awareness of their physical presence and surroundings.

Additionally, experts in tummo breathing may use it to increase their body temperature. An older article from 2013 noted that this increase in core temperature was not the main aim of tummo breathing. It is instead a way for someone to reach a state of deep meditation.

Tibetan Buddhist monks originally developed tummo breathing thousands of years ago. They practiced the technique as one of the Six Dharmas of Naropa, a set of advanced Tibetan Buddhist tantric practices. People used these teachings to help them reach enlightenment at an accelerated rate.

In 1981, a cardiologist called Herbert Benson observed Tibetan monks practicing tummo in the Himalayan mountains with support from the fourteenth Dalai Lama. Benson noted that the monks were able to raise the temperature of their fingers and toes by up to 8.3ºC.

Researchers in 2013 repeated this experiment and found that tummo practitioners could raise their body temperatures to levels of a mild or moderate fever.

Keep in mind

A person should be respectful when inquiring about tummo breathing.

People who practice Tantric Buddhism consider tummo breathing to be an important part of their teachings.

Tibetan practitioners have described tummo breathing as one of their most sacred spiritual practices.

Teachers of the technique may not teach a person the practice until they have reached a certain level of spiritual awakening.

There is limited scientific information on how to perform tummo breathing. Certain people who practice the technique suggest that only experienced gurus or teachers should teach it.

A person should speak with a practitioner of tantric Buddhism if they want to learn the best way to do tummo breathing.

The following information on how to carry out tummo breathing is anecdotal and does not have any scientific basis. Therefore, a person should use caution when using this technique.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with the eyes closed and the hands on the stomach.
  2. Try to relax the mind as much as possible.
  3. Visualize a fire inside the stomach near the navel by imagining being a hollow balloon with a ball of fire inside. This visualization should continue throughout the meditation.
  4. Inhale deeply through the nose, leaning backward slightly and expanding the torso and chest. Imagine the oxygen in the breath fueling the fire inside, causing it to become bigger and hotter.
  5. Exhale forcefully through the mouth while pursing the lips, as though blowing through a straw. Curl the spine forward and imagine the flame spreading its heat through the body.
  6. Repeat this pattern five times, imagining the heat building. After the fifth inhalation, swallow gently and focus on how that holds the breath below the diaphragm. Contract the pelvic floor muscles, holding the breath between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor.
  7. Hold this breath for as long as possible, then exhale and relax the muscles.
  8. Repeat this pattern a few times.

Research from 2015 found that tummo breathing increases a person’s metabolism and alertness. An individual may want to practice tummo breathing in the morning or do it several times to increase energy levels throughout the day.

An older study from 2013 suggests that if a person’s body temperature increases due to tummo breathing, it may result in the following benefits:

  • boosting immunity
  • improving how the learning and memory center in the brain responds to stimuli
  • increased alertness
  • faster reaction times
  • improved cognitive performance in visual attention and working memory

Tummo breathing requires a person to perform various breathing techniques. However, someone with a health condition that affects their breathing, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, should speak with a doctor before practicing tummo breathing.

Certain practitioners of tummo may use it to increase their body temperature before cold water swimming or similar activities. A person should not attempt this unless they are experts in tummo breathing.

If someone takes part in cold water swimming without proper preparation, they may be at risk of:

The Wim Hof method is a breathing technique that involves periods of hyperventilation, followed by breath holds. It also involves meditation and cold exposure.

Similarly to tummo breathing, the Wim Hof method allows a person to withstand cold temperatures without ill effect.

However, the Wim Hof method is a lifestyle practice rather than a religious teaching. Additionally, this technique does not involve visualization techniques.

Tummo breathing is a form of meditation to help a person reach enlightenment. Tibetan Buddhist monks created the method thousands of years ago as part of the Six Dharmas of Naropa.

Expert tummo practitioners can use it to increase their body temperature as a way to achieve a deep meditative state.

However, there is little information on how to correctly perform tummo breathing. Practitioners of tantric Buddhism recommend that a person learns the technique from an experienced teacher.

If a person has any health issues that affect their breathing, they should speak with a doctor before practicing tummo breathing. Additionally, they should exercise caution when using this method to increase their body temperature before cold water swimming.